Uruguay economy minister resigns in airline probe

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Associated Press

Posted on December 21, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Updated Saturday, Dec 21 at 6:30 PM

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — Uruguay's economy minister has resigned as a judge investigates alleged fraud in the failure of the national airline Pluna.

President Jose Mujica took no questions Saturday after announcing that Fernando Lorenzo resigned just before his interrogation by an investigative judge.

Pluna flew for 75 years before going bankrupt last year, costing the state millions of dollars. Lorenzo tried to sell the company's assets in an auction where the only buyer turned out to be a stand-in for Pluna's competitor, Argentine businessman Carlos Lopez Mena. His Buquebus company dominates travel between Montevideo and Buenos Aires.

A prosecutor wants Lorenzo and Banco Republica president Fernando Calloia charged with abuse of power, and Pluna's last private owner Matias Campiani charged with fraud.

Any charges will likely be settled by Uruguay's Supreme Court.

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